Meet the Staff: Carolyn Stem, Age-friendly Project Assistant

meetstaff_carolyn

The Basics

Age: 65+
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Hobbies: Music, Opera, Concert-going, Cooking, Gardening

How did you get started with Age-friendly NYC?

I went to a town hall meeting with Gale Brewer, Christine Quinn and Ruth Finkelstein in March of 2008 on the Upper West Side. My mother had just died in January and I had experienced first-hand the decline of a vibrant woman who had withdrawn within herself as she got older. It hit me so much and I didn’t know what to do about it and I didn’t know of any organizations who could let me know what was available to me to help her. Because of this, I went to the meeting and while there, I decided to volunteer to promote Age-friendly NYC and help the initiative kick off however I could. I volunteered for 2 years and while I was volunteering, I also worked as a Reservist for the Department for The Aging (DFTA). When my contract was up, as they could only have us for so long, Age-friendly NYC partner The New York Academy of Medicine hired me on.

What is your favorite part of working for Age-friendly NYC?

My favorite part is speaking to other seniors and working directly with them when we have meetings such as consultations, focus groups etc. I like to communicate with other seniors and talk to them about what they need. It makes me happy to talk to them and if I can help them anyway in their trials, that is great, but they are also inspiring to me with my own trials. They are also very interesting and each has a history and a long story.

What is one thing that is not happening now that you think could really improve cities for older adults?

I think there should be an age-friendly senior advisory board for the city as a part of the city administration. A committee made up only of seniors and related partners working in aging. This committee would help put a senior lens on any legislative things that are passing or recommendations and changes going through city council and the mayor’s office. Having seniors look at anything that is being proposed like land projects, building projects, neighborhood revitalization efforts etc. Not just things that are age-friendly per se, but city projects in general. Anything that is decided upon in the city that will have an effect on the city should have seniors input as we are about ¼ of the population living here!

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